The Office Romance Do’s and Don’ts Everyone Has to Know

You’ve been secretly admiring each other for a couple of weeks, and after some flirting at a few after-work get-togethers, you finally start dating. No one knows about you two — for now. But it has been hard to keep a lid on your excitement. You’re finally jumping out of bed each morning, happy to go to work so that you can steal a glance or two at your new love.

Even though this is an exciting time in your life, mixing business and pleasure can be risky. While it’s all fun and games right now, if you break up, it could be a very messy situation. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind in order to maintain a professional image.

1. Don’t break the rules

job offer, business people with contract document

Seriously, read the fine print. |

If your company has explicitly stated that it is against co-worker dating, or that it does allow co-worker dating but has specific rules and guidelines, do your best to adhere to those rules. When it comes to your employer, rules are rules, and you must abide by them or look elsewhere for employment.

2. Don’t engage in PDA

Colleagues drinking after work

Try not to get touchy. |

It’s important to remain professional at all times. Public displays of affection are a big no-no. Kissing or suggestively touching each other at work is definitely not a good look. Contain yourselves and refrain from being grabby during work hours. What happens after you’re off the clock is your business.

3. Don’t spend too much time in each other’s work space

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Try not to get too cozy. |

Spending way too much time chatting each other up is not only distracting for your office-mates, it’s also a productivity killer. Certainly you have better things to do than ask each other how your weekends were (because you already know) or what your thoughts are on the new color printer in advertising (because no one cares). You’ll have plenty of time to talk when you go out on your dates. Save your conversations for later.

4. Don’t travel to work (or home) together

Driving a car while sleep deprived boosts your chances of a collision exponentially | iStock

You’ll want to stick with driving solo. |

If you are trying to keep your relationship private, your best bet is to travel separately. If other co-workers spot you traveling to and from work often, it will eventually become clear that you are more than just close office-mates.

5. Do think twice about eating lunch together

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Taking a day date for every lunch break isn’t the best idea. |

Another way your little secret can get out is if you have lunch together very often. This will definitely raise a few eyebrows and start some rumors. If you just have to eat together, make it a group lunch so that your relationship isn’t glaringly obvious. Just to be safe, save meals together for after work (far away from the office) or the weekend.

6. Do dress professionally

young woman working with laptop

Stick to your usual work attire. |

This should go without saying even if you aren’t dating your co-worker. Sometimes when you are dating someone at the office, you’ll be tempted to change the way you usually dress. A button or two (or three) might go unbuttoned on that freshly pressed shirt, or you might start wearing those pants that are just a little too tight in all the right places. Don’t give in to the temptation to dress provocatively. It will just give off the impression that you’re willing, ready, and available to anyone who asks.

7. Do act civilly after a breakup

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Remain civil. |

Your first thought might be to access his or her email account (you thought you were in love and exchanged passwords) and delete all of their important messages or send incriminating pictures to the entire staff. Don’t do it. Act like adults, and know that office romances are a very high risk, high stress, and often don’t work out. With this in mind, proceed with caution.